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Old Faithful crowd

New West Daily Roundup for Sept. 14, 2015

In today’s New West Roundup: Salt Lake City International Airport ridesharing returns, Yellowstone National Park sees unexpected uptick in visitors, and AstraZeneca is bringing 400 jobs to Amgen’s former manufacturing facility in Boulder.

Salt Lake City International Airport ridesharing is back after Lyft and airport officials agreed on a regulatory plan that treats the firm like any other ground transportation providers, per the Deseret News. This means drivers must register with the state, undergo background checks and carry a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance. Uber serves the airport with its upper-level service that’s the equivalent of limo or town-car service, but Uber officials say they’re working on a rideshare plan similar to Lyft’s.

Yellowstone National Park has already welcomed 3 million visitors this year — a level that could be straining services and infrastructure. Park officials say they didn’t expect a 15+% plus in visitors in 2015, per Yellowstone Insider: “We have been surprised by the size of the increase this year,” says Dan Wenk, Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. “We will be looking at what this means for the future and what we can do to improve visitor experiences while still protecting park resources.” The barrage of visitors is expected to continue through September, thanks to lower gas prices, favorable weather forecasts and an influx of Chinese tourists. The same level of increase is being seen in other part of the New West: In Zion National Parks, crowds are forcing officials to shuttle in visitors from remote parking areas.

AstraZeneca is bringing 400 jobs to Amgen’s former manufacturing facility in Boulder, per the Denver Post, as “AstraZeneca officials said they plan to start staffing the facility immediately to assist with refurbishment and infrastructure improvements and are targeting late-2017 for the facility to be licensed for commercial development.” The AstraZeneca MedImmune subsidiary is an important player in the up-and-coming biologics industry.

The University of Montana and Montana State University won’t follow the lead of other Football Championship Subdivision schools and cover the full cost of attendance. Schools like NDSU have already announced they’d cover these costs, per The Missoulian, but UM and MSU officials say they just don’t have the extra $600,000 or so in annual costs to cover the additional expenses: “If we had to do it right now within our budget, no, we couldn’t,” UM athletic director Kent Haslam said this week. “We don’t have $600, $700 grand of extra money every year…. But there’s a lot of conversations going on and what are we gonna do? You can’t sit around and pretend it’s not happening.” The Power 5 conferences — Pac-12, Big 10, Big 12, Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences — are already covering these costs for the current school year and beyond, while some FCS schools, like NDSU, UND and Liberty, have announced their intentions to do the same.

Finally: The liquor business in Utah is booming, per research from the Salt Lake News. A number of factors are leading to the bull market. First, there are demographics: more young people (who are more likely to consume liquor) are staying in the state, particularly in urban areas; these same younger people are likely to launch brewpubs, beer-centered restaurants and distilleries; and state law regarding alcohol have loosened in the last decade.

Image of tourists at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful courtesy Yellowstone National Park, via flickr.com.

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